Tag Archives: New York City

The Double Life of Father Schmidt


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father hans schmidtOn September 5, 1913, Mary Bann, of Woodcliff, New Jersey, and a male companion, were walking near an abandoned dock near the New Jersey side of the Hudson River, when she spotted a bundle resting near the riverbank. It was wrapped in brown paper and tied with twine, and fairly large in size. Though her companion wished to dissuade her from getting near it, Mary had a stubborn mind, thus she hiked down to the side of the river and grabbed the package. She untied the string, unfurled the brown paper and the newspaper under it, and was soon shocked by the sight: it was the upper torso of a young woman. Her companion quickly hurried to find a policeman. Continue reading

1797 Fort Jay Letter Acquired By Jay Heritage Center


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john adler and his familyAbout seventeen years ago, inspired by the purchase of several volumes of a popular 19th century journal, John Adler had an idea – make the American narrative more accessible to the public. So upon his retirement, the former advertising executive launched a multi-year endeavor to create a database of articles, images and ads scanned from the iconic Harper’s Weekly Magazine.

Harper’s was the premiere chronicle of political events and literary commentary of its day, and Adler’s invention would help readers navigate thousands of stories from 1857 to 1916. One could find everything from headlines about Lincoln’s election to Thomas Nast’s cartoons denouncing slavery. This online trove christened “HarpWeek” was further complemented by academic essays and materials for educators. In 2003, Adler’s searchable scholarship “HarpWeek Presents Lincoln and the War” won recognition from the prestigious Gilder Lehrman Institute and an E-Lincoln Prize. Continue reading

Defending NY Harbor Exhibit Opens At Museum Ship Lilac


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Fort Wood and World Trade Center Bedloe Liberty IslandThe first exhibit of Lilac’s 2016 season is Defending New York Harbor, a selection of photographs by Richard Golden. An opening reception will be held on board Lilac on Thursday, June 16 from 5 to 7 pm. The exhibit runs through July 31st.

New York Harbor has been a prize worth attacking since the earliest days of European colonization. In the 1790s, the United States responded to threats by building massive coastal defenses around the Harbor. The Upper Bay, the Narrows, the Lower Bay, Long Island Sound and New York City’s Atlantic shore possess more surviving coastal fortifications built over a longer period of time than anywhere else in the country. The striking photographs in this exhibit show the current condition of these historic structures. Continue reading

New World Symphony With Puppets


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DvorAmHorejsLaMama Theatre on East Fourth Street is where puppets, monsters and actors cavort, presenting classic and cutting-edge performance, whooping and hollering in many languages to stage just about any variety of theater from around the globe.

In March, in the space named after the founder, Ellen Stewart, the Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre partnered with Dvorak American Heritage Association to present “The New World Symphony: Dvorak in America,” by Vit Horejs. A jazz trio led by James Brandon Lewis on sax threaded musical commentary on the live and puppet action, adding a contemporary flavor to tales of Dvorak’s musical journeys through American sounds. Continue reading

New Biography of Playboy, Yachtsman Gordon Bennett


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gordon bennett book coverAfter a drunken evening in New York’s lavish Union Club, three of the richest men in America made a bet that would change the course of yachting history. Six men died in the brutal first race across the Atlantic, turning the perception of yachting from gentleman’s pursuit to rugged adventure. The $90,000 prize (about $15 million today) helped to herald the “gilded age” of America.

Sam Jefferson’s new book Gordon Bennett and the First Yacht Race Across the Atlantic (Bloomsbury, 2016) tells the tale of James Gordon Bennett, Jr., the playboy son of the New York Herald multi-millionaire. Continue reading

Red Hook’s Waterfront Museum Barge Hosts Port Cities Performance


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jabari brisport at port cities workshop at dixon place in 2015The Port/Cities Project will present the World Premiere of Port Cities NYC, written, directed and choreographed by Talya Chalef. This theatrical journey begins at Pier 11 in the Financial District, where audiences ferry across the harbor accompanied by an original soundscape. After docking in Red Hook’s working port, the performance continues on board The Waterfront Museum Barge. This limited engagement runs May 5 – 19. Continue reading

The Untold Story of Jeremiah G. Hamilton


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prince of darkness_MECH_01.inddShane White’s book Prince of Darkness: The Untold Story of Jeremiah G. Hamilton, Wall Street’s First Black Millionaire (St. Martin’s Press, 2015) is the story of 19th century business man Jeremiah Hamilton, who overcame adversity and discrimination to become one of the wealthiest men of his time, earning a fortune of $2 million, valued at $250,000 million in today’s world.

This is a historical account of an African American man who held his own in the business world, bought a mansion in rural New Jersey, and owned railroad stock on trains he wasn’t legally allowed to ride. Cornelius Vanderbilt, America’s first tycoon, came to respect, grudgingly, his one-time opponent. Continue reading

Brooklyn Heights: An Industrial History


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brooklyn heights book coverRobert Furman’s book Brooklyn Heights: the Rise, Fall and Rebirth of America’s First Suburb (The History Press, 2015) is a substantial illustrated history of Brooklyn. The book takes a look at the moving forces of history, and shows that technology is the great creator and destroyer, especially in the rise and fall of cities.

Brooklyn was once a great industrial city, like many others. It was enabled by transportation technology: steam ferries, railroads, canals. It was once the largest freight port in the world, in particular in Red Hook’s Atlantic and Erie Basins. They were the discharging end of the Erie Canal, and later expanded into international shipping. Continue reading

Review: The Remarkable Rise of Eliza Jumel


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the remarkable rise of Eliza JumelShe’s the woman who dueled with Aaron Burr and won. Move over Alexander Hamilton. The life of Eliza Jumel is a tale about a woman who pulled hard on her Yankee bootstraps to make good on the American dream.

Margaret Oppenheimer’s splendid book, The Remarkable Rise of Eliza Jumel: Marriage and Money in the Early Republic (Chicago Review Press, 2015), takes readers along on a tale of intrigue, scandal and innuendo. Far from a steamy beach read featuring men in white wigs, this meticulously-researched tale paints a detailed and scholarly portrait of New York City and the way in which the city’s growth provided fertile ground for the ambitions of its heroine. Continue reading